ABER­TAY UNI­VER­SITY

A pi­o­neer­ing uni­ver­sity that’s pas­sion­ate about games

EDGE - - TIME EXTEND -

Aber­tay launched the world’s first in­dus­try-fo­cused de­gree in 1997, so it has plenty of ex­pe­ri­ence in teach­ing devel­op­ment hope­fuls. It’s con­tin­ued to adapt since that time, and now of­fers a num­ber of cour­ses that cover ev­ery cor­ner of the game cre­ation process. And with Dare To Be Dig­i­tal, the uni­ver­sity’s an­nual stu­dent game-mak­ing com­pe­ti­tion, Aber­tay con­tin­ues its com­mit­ment to games be­yond only ed­u­ca­tion.

Dr Wil­liam Hu­ber ex­plains more. Why is Aber­tay the right choice? Aber­tay is com­pletely com­mit­ted to game ed­u­ca­tion – we host the old­est com­puter game ed­u­ca­tion pro­gramme in Europe, and one of the old­est in the world. We’re a des­ig­nated cen­tre for ex­cel­lence in game ed­u­ca­tion, and the only pro­gramme in Europe ranked in the top 25 by the Prince­ton Re­view. We have cour­ses across all as­pects of game de­sign and devel­op­ment, from art to pro­gram­ming to pro­duc­tion and au­dio, and im­por­tantly there’s ex­ten­sive col­lab­o­ra­tion across the dif­fer­ent dis­ci­plines of game-mak­ing through­out each stu­dent’s time here. Do stu­dents col­lab­o­rate across those dif­fer­ent dis­ci­plines? Stu­dents work on teams through­out their time here, and all par­tic­i­pate in a ma­jor group project dur­ing their third year, tak­ing ex­ter­nal briefs from in­dus­try part­ners and other sources, and learn­ing how to ap­ply the skills they’ve honed in their first two years while work­ing with stu­dents in other pro­grammes and dis­ci­plines, in­clud­ing de­sign­ers, pro­gram­mers, pro­duc­ers, artists and sound en­gi­neers. Our game de­sign pro­gramme is in game de­sign and pro­duc­tion man­age­ment, so mak­ing teams work ef­fec­tively is an es­sen­tial skill. Which tools do you fo­cus on? We have ac­cess to the en­gines, tools, plat­forms and tech­nolo­gies be­ing used in the in­dus­try today. We work closely with in­dus­try part­ners and plat­form ven­dors – es­pe­cially Sony and Mi­crosoft. Sig­nif­i­cantly, though, we’re not a one-tool shop – stu­dents pro­duce games us­ing Unity, CryEngine, Un­real, Source and PhyreEngine, learn a range of pro­gram­ming lan­guages, and de­velop as­sets us­ing soft­ware from Adobe and Au­todesk. They tar­get PC, con­soles and mo­bile. Does it mean stu­dents are pre­pared for all lev­els of game devel­op­ment? I think that stu­dents at Aber­tay, and in game pro­grammes around the world, un­der­stand that their ca­reers may in­volve mov­ing be­tween very small and very large stu­dios. Five years ago, teach­ing in another game de­sign pro­gramme, I felt like I was fac­ing a dated set of ex­pec­ta­tions about the tra­jec­tory of a games ca­reer. Now, stu­dents look at those suc­cesses which be­gan as small in­die stu­dios, like Mo­jang, Rovio and Project RED. And many who as­pire to pro­duce orig­i­nal work in a small stu­dio at some point see the value in work­ing for some time in a larger stu­dio, as a kind of ap­pren­tice­ship that will give them the per­spec­tive – and pro­fes­sional net­work – which will al­low them to be suc­cess­ful if they strike out on their own later. And when they leave you, what do you hope grad­u­ates will take away?

“We’ re a des­ig­nated cen­tre for ex­cel­lence in game ed­u­ca­tion”

We view game ed­u­ca­tion as be­ing about more than just prepa­ra­tion for a first job – we see it as a new creative and in­tel­lec­tual dis­ci­pline, a new way of un­der­stand­ing and in­ter­act­ing with the world in which we live. Aber­tay stu­dents learn how to work col­lab­o­ra­tively while think­ing in­de­pen­dently, and they take the vo­ca­tion of game-mak­ing se­ri­ously. That’s why our alumni are en­thu­si­as­ti­cally re­cruited into stu­dios around the world.

Aber­tay re­searcher and lec­turer Matt Bett de­vel­op­ing tools for vir­tual pro­duc­tion, us­ing Un­real En­gine

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